Home Elections 2013 Pakistan Swears In New Parliament

Pakistan Swears In New Parliament

by AFP
Aamir Qureshi—AFP

Aamir Qureshi—AFP

PMLN will form the incoming government with 177 of 342 seats in the National Assembly.

Pakistan’s new parliament is set to be sworn-in on Saturday, completing the country’s first-ever democratic transition of power.

Newly elected lawmakers were seen entering the Parliament building for the oath-taking ceremony as security was tightened around the “Red Zone” of the capital Islamabad where key government buildings are located.

Pakistan’s 65-year history has been punctuated by three periods of military rule. The country achieved its democratic milestone by completing its full five-year term under a coalition government led by Pakistan Peoples Party. But the PPP was routed at the polls, blamed by voters for five years of apathy and drift that saw crippling power shortages worsen and militancy continue almost unabated.

“The newly-elected members will take the oath during the first session after the general election, on Saturday,” the National Assembly Secretariat said in a statement. It said that election of speaker and deputy speaker will be held through secret ballot on June 3 and on June 5 the lawmakers in Lower House would elect the prime minister.

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) romped to victory and will command 177 of the 342 seats in the new assembly. Sharif will be sworn in as prime minister for an unprecedented third term on Wednesday. During his two previous administrations he earned a reputation for hotheadedness and pugnacity.

“I thank Allah who gave our nation an opportunity to bring a new government through elections,” Sharif told reporters at Islamabad airport where he arrived from his hometown Lahore. “It is a good development that a peaceful democratic transition is taking place today. There could not be a better way to change a government through ballot. I congratulate the nation over it.”

PMLN leaders said they would take the opposition on board to take on the various problems confronting Pakistan. “We will closely coordinate with the opposition parties to tackle the enormous problems facing our country,” senior PMLN figure and newly elected M.P. Ahsan Iqbal told reporters.

But the problems facing Sharif’s new government are enormous—a failing economy, endless power cuts and rampant Islamist militancy—and analysts say the 63-year-old is likely to seek a more conciliatory path.

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